Friday, August 19, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Real Reason Not to Cover Up Nursing Mothers

One of the best articles I've read explaining why we should not cover up while nursing our babies. 

By Martha Neovard

"I was browsing the internet last night at about 3 am, while lying in bed and listening to the crashing of a distant storm, when I came across a recent blogpost, by a woman named loralee (See the blog). The blog itself was fantastic. The author openly admitted she has a level of discomfort when confronted with the sight of an openly nursing mom and baby. Her first reaction is kneejerk, a "cover that up" level of discomfort. Her second reaction is to check herself, take some deep calming breaths, assure herself it is well within the dyad's rights to eat wherever, whenever, no matter what implement they are using to do so. Yes, the article was fantastic, level-headed, pensive, and provoking. A very well-written piece, and after I read it I was left with a sense of relief and satisfaction. So then, stupidly, I moved on to the comments section."
Read the full article at...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

“That’s what you get for not having an epidural!”

By Birth Sense
Today’s post is a birth story that comes to us from a reader who had difficulty finding the support she needed in labor.  This reader had hoped for a different type of birth, but had problems getting her insurance to cover other options than an OB-attended hospital birth.  I have inserted my comments in color in her story below:
“On the very day that I was 38 weeks pregnant, my water broke at 3:30 in the morning. I called the doctor on call, and they wanted me to get over to the hospital as soon as I could so that I wouldn’t get an infection (due to the bag of water broken). Infection is unlikely if a mother stays at home during the time she is waiting for contractions to start, and does not put anything into the vagina.  The cervical exams women are subjected to in the hospital, and the foreign bacteria that their bodies are not accustomed to, make it MORE likely infection will develop in the hospital setting.  My desire was to stay home and labor as long as possible and go in as I was more progressed. But that did not happen.

Once I arrived at the hospital, I was told that the clock had started ticking and that I could have about 6 hours to get things going on my own. If that did not work, then they would need to give me some pitocin. 
Where does the “6 hour” rule come from?  This is an arbitrary figure that has been used by some physicians based on patients who were in the hospital being examined, thus having bacteria introduced into their bodies.  As long as the woman is not GBS positive, there is no harm in waiting for labor to begin; my OB backup is comfortable waiting 24 hours.  Most women will go into labor on their own by 12 hours after the water breaks.  I was walking all over the birth wing and doing different moves that I thought would help. I only had a handful of contractions in all of that 6 hours. When they had done the routine blood work at the hospital when I first arrived, it showed my white blood cells had been a little raised but they weren’t sure why.  White blood cells are almost always slightly elevated during labor.  This is a well-documented fact, and is perfectly normal.
Pitocin was started, much to my dismay. It wasn’t so bad at first until I got to 4 cm and they kept turning the pitocin up. But I still reminded them that I did not want an epidural or anything else. The nurse told me that about 90% of women who come to the hospital in labor usually get an epidural or some kind of meds. She wasn’t use to working with someone who turned down those things. The pitocin made my contractions soo intense and soo close together. WAY more painful than when I was in labor with my first baby, with natural contractions.   Pitocin-induced contractions peak very rapidly, as opposed to the gradual build-up of a natural contraction.  Once a woman is contracting regularly, every 3 minutes or so, pitocin should be gradually turned down and then off, if the woman continues to contract on her own.

The doctor on call came in to see where I was at and he told me I was 9 1/2 cm with some lip still there. I told him I had a STRONG urge to push. He told me not to push yet, turned the pitocin up and left the room. So here I was, trying not to push, but actually could not help but to push because of the pitocin. I told the nurses, I am pushing. I told them I couldn’t physically help it. Never in my life, had I felt so out-of-control of my body.
 It is absolutely true that when the urge to push is very strong, your body pushes no matter how much you blow and pant to avoid pushing.  Current research supports encouraging the laboring woman to push when she feels the urge, just as much as she feels the urge.  This reader should have been encouraged to follow her body’s instincts.  When the doc came back in, he checked me and said I was still at 9 1/2 cm and needed to wait. I practially begged him to put his hands inside of me and help stretch me so I could push this baby out. He didn’t really do much other than to sit at the end of the bed watching me. When I said it hurt soo bad, his reply was “That’s what you get for not getting an epidural.’ I wasn’t saying it hurt soo bad in hopes of getting any pain meds. I was simply being vocal and trying to get through this ordeal. It was helping me to make noise and talk. Many women who are very vocal in labor make this statement.  They find that vocalizing helps them cope, rather than vocalizing being an indication they need drugs.  A care provider should NEVER berate a woman for not choosing an epidural.  FINALLY I was told to push and I did and had been already due to the force of the pit. The doc said baby was face-up…giving him trouble delivering her. He kept saying over and over again, “This baby is just sunny-side up.” After she finally made her grand appearance, the doc began turning up the pitocin again and giving me shots of methergine and some other suppository (misoprostol to stop any potential bleeding. I felt all that was VERY unnessecary. He told me he wanted to say I bled less than I did with my son. My records showed that with my son’s birth, I lost 450cc, which is a reasonable loss for a normal natural birth. And I did not need any type of meds to control bleeding after his birth. So I bled less after my daughter’s birth because of preventive measures that I am not sure I ever needed. Then the doc was gone. I was very sore due to an episiotomy from the uncontrollable pushing too early.


Never once in my whole labor, did my doctor ever lay his hand on me and say, “You’re doing great, keep up the good work.” The nurses never really layed their hands on me to show me different positions or things that may help relieve pain. I felt SOOOO alone. Thank God my husband was there supporting me! He was amazing! I still find myself in tears as I relive my birth experience. My LAST birth experience. Here I am studying to be a doula. I had envisioned my own birth to have gone SOOO different. I knew not to expect everything to go as planned. But NOTHING went as planned. I ended up with an infection after labor which required antibitotics and a longer stay in the hospital. The only wonderful and amazing thing I took away from this birth, was my beautiful and tiny 6 lb 14 oz baby girl!! Some would tell me, “why does it matter how the birth went if the outcome was great.?” “healthy baby and healthy mom, thats all that matters.” But I am a firm believer in the experience as well. Which is why I am sooo determined to get my doula requirements done and start to be that support for women! Some women think they cant have a doula if they decide to have pain meds or end up having a c-section. But doulas cater to all types of births. No women should EVER have to go through her labor and feel like a failure. I have had those feelings, and am trying to get over them. With my labor, we kept hearing what wasn’t going right or how my body wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do. I think there is soo much that could be improved in the whole experience of women in labor. Especially with the doctors, even the nurses…bringing a baby into the world is an incredibly emotional and physically demanding process. I believe those helping and aiding in this process should be emotional and physically invested as welll!

Just wanted to share my experience. I am blessed with 2 beautiful kids! Just wish this last experience could be a story I was proud of telling or that I at least didn’t feel like I failed somehow.
Dear reader, you did not fail in any way.  Your doctor and nurses failed you.  You should have been supported, encouraged, and praised for your efforts.  I think you did an amazing job to endure pitocin-induced contractions without drugs!  That is very, very difficult.  You were not treated well, but I hope you will be able to take those negative experiences and use them both to understand the emotions of other women who have had negative experiences, as well as to help them achieve the birth experience they long for.  You will make a wonderful doula!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Home Birth on the Rise by a Dramatic 20 Percent

By LEANNE ITALIE, Associated Press
One mother chose home birth because it was cheaper than going to a hospital. Another gave birth at home because she has multiple sclerosis and feared unnecessary medical intervention. And some choose home births after cesarean sections with their first babies.

Whatever their motivation, all are among a striking trend: Home births increased 20 percent from 2004 to 2008, accounting for 28,357 of 4.2 million U.S. births, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in May.

White women led the drive, with 1 in 98 having babies at home in 2008, compared to 1 in 357 black women and 1 in 500 Hispanic women.

Sherry Hopkins, a Las Vegas midwife, said the women whose home births she's attended include a pediatrician, an emergency room doctor and nurses. "We're definitely seeing well-educated and well-informed people who want to give birth at home," she said.

Robbie Davis-Floyd, a medical anthropologist at the University of Texas at Austin and researcher on global trends in childbirth, obstetrics and midwifery, said "at first, in the 1970s, it was largely a hippie, countercultural thing to give birth outside of the hospital. Over the years, as the formerly `lay' midwives have become far more sophisticated, so has their clientele."

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which certifies OB-GYNs, warns that home births can be unsafe, especially if the mother has high-risk conditions, if a birth attendant is inadequately trained and if there's no nearby hospital in case of emergency. Some doctors also question whether a "feminist machoism" is at play in wanting to give birth at home.

But home birthers say they want to be free of drugs, fetal monitors, IVs and pressure to hurry their labor at the behest of doctors and hospitals. They prefer to labor in tubs of water or on hands and knees, walk around their living rooms or take comfort in their own beds, surrounded by loved ones as they listen to music or hypnosis recordings with the support of midwives and doulas. Some even go without midwives and rely on husbands or other non-professionals for support.

Julie Jacobs, 38, of Baltimore, who has multiple sclerosis, said she "chose midwives and hypnosis because I wanted to surround myself with people who would support me as a birthing mother, rather than view me as an MS patient who would be a liability in need of interventions at every turn."

Her first two children were born in a freestanding birth center operated by midwives. After the center closed, her third child was born at home in 2007. "If I had been in a hospital I probably would have had C-sections for all three," she said. "With the first, I would have been terrified to try a home birth. After the second one I was like, hey, I can't necessarily walk in a straight line, but I can do this."

Some home birthers cite concerns over cesarean sections. The U.S. rate of C-sections in hospitals hovers around 32 percent, soaring up to 60 percent in some areas. In some cases, there's a "too posh to push" mentality of scheduled inductions for convenience sake (Victoria Beckham had three).

Gina Crosley-Corcoran, a Chicago blogger and pre-law student, had a C-section with her first baby and chronicled nightmarish pressure from nurses and doctors to abandon a vaginal birth with her second. She followed up with a third child born at home in April.

"I do think there's a backlash against what's happening in hospitals," she said. "Women are finding that the hospital experience wasn't a good one."

In Portland, Ore., acupuncturist Becca Seitz gave birth to both her children at home, the first time in 2007 because she and her husband were without insurance.

"It was never on my radar, until we couldn't afford otherwise," she said. "I'm granola, but not that granola. It cost us $3,300, as opposed to over $10,000 in a hospital."

Her midwife was prepared with the drug Pitocin, oxygen and other medical equipment.

"They were both born over the toilet," she said. "It was a nice position. It's a way that we're used to pushing."

Dr. Joel Evans, the rare board-certified OB-GYN who supports home birth, said the medical establishment has become "resistant to change, resistant to dialogue, resistant to flexibility."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cutting comments: the foreskin debate

Some say it’s barbaric, others a matter of hygiene. But with babies dying from circumcision, should it continue? Our correspondent hears from the ‘intactivists’

By Simon Mills
The actor Alan Cumming gets quite a reaction when he drops his trousers. Especially in America. Why? His penis is uncircumcised. He is genitally intact, a cavalier rather than a roundhead. His johnson wears an opera cape, as they say in US gay circles. This gives him something akin to freak status in the hygiene-obsessed States, where 70% of the mature male population have been circumcised.
Cumming, an endearingly puckish type, is really rather proud of his foreskin. “During interviews in America, I have made a point of talking about it,” he says. “I think it’s insane that an entire nation is ignorant about a part of their body they have lost. When I take my pants off in America, people gasp, which is kind of nice, until I realise that they’re actually staring at my penis as if it’s some kind of National Geographic photo come to life. Nobody has a foreskin there. They’re, like, ‘Wow! What do you do with that? How does it work?’ ”
Why is it that so many American men are circumcised? Well, it seems the Brits are responsible. Queen Victoria, who, along with much of the British aristocracy, believed that the English descended from one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, chose to have her sons circumcised. It became fashionable, and the procedure travelled to America. It was there that John Harvey Kellogg campaigned for circumcision as a cure for masturbation, which was, in his opinion, a cause of psychological problems. And ever since (in the 1950s, it is estimated, 90% of American boys were snipped), middle-class Americans have grown up believing that foreskins are filthy, wholly unnecessary fleshy adjuncts that harbour disease and make a sensitive teenage boy something of a fairground attraction in the communal-shower environment.
That’s why the uncut likes of Nick Nolte, Leonardo DiCaprio, Willem Dafoe, Emilio Estevez, Nicolas Cage and Keanu Reeves, all born during the barbaric period of the last millennium, are listed on pro-foreskin websites as if they were all some kind of heroic locker-room maverick.
Blame Cumming and the unlikely figure of Ben Affleck, if you like, but the circumcision debate has suddenly caught the attention of a new breed of quietly militant pro-choicers and so-called “intactivists” who are putting foreskins to the fore again and unleashing some appropriately cutting comments from the high-minded and famous.
Men with foreskins squirm and buttock-clench comedically when the subject is broached, while men who were cut as babies can’t see what all the fuss is about. Foreskins are said to heighten sexual pleasure but harbour disease. Circumcised men are said to suffer from, wait for it, “significant penile sensory deficit”, although – get this – a Men’s Health magazine survey in 2000 suggested that uncircumcised men lasted an average of four minutes longer during sex than their circumcised peers.
Pressure groups such as Brothers United for Future Foreskins (Buff) and Uncircumcising Information and Resources Center (Uncirc), and even Jews Against Circumcision, fronted by Rabbi Moses Maimonides, do their best to break with tradition and prevent unnecessary cuts in the United States, while Cumming and the art critic Brian Sewell are both spokesmen for the British branch of the
National Organization of Restoring Men (Norm, originally known as Recover a Penis, or Recap), founded in 1989 for men hoping to restore their foreskins. Foreskin restoration? It can be done. Sort of.
Medical techniques are not sufficiently advanced to give back the erogenous tissue and nerves amputated at circumcision, but careful stretching can create a more natural-looking penis, and softening the epithelium (or outer tissue) of the glans (or tip) can return the penis to a much higher level of sensitivity.
The pro-choicers feel that they are on a roll right now. Non-medical circumcision for children is now illegal in Sweden. The numbers of circumcision procedures in the UK are slowly declining and, after peaking in the 1930s, when 35% of British boys were snipped, fell to a mere 6.5% in the 1980s. Today, only 12,200 circumcisions are performed in the UK annually. Most of them go ahead without a hitch. A few end in tragedy.
The inquest into the death of Amitai Moshe, who was just seven days old when he stopped breathing after being circumcised at a synagogue in north London last February – he died a week later from a heart attack – is to be held tomorrow at Hornsey coroner’s court.
“No causal link has been established between the circumcision and the baby being taken ill. There is no indication that this was anything other than a tragic juxtaposition of two events,” a spokesman for the synagogue said after the child’s death. “The mohel [appointed circumciser] is a registered member of the Initiation Society, which has been licensing and training practitioners of the procedure for more than 200 years. It is a well-established and well-regulated practice.”
Anti-circumcision horror stories such as this have served only to rally the pro-choice, intactivist PR machine. As well as Affleck, who has made it known that he is against routine infant circumcision, celebrity supporters include Colin Farrell. Affleck, it should be noted, was apparently circumcised in adulthood, after suffering injury during the filming of a superhero movie; a doctor decided that removing his foreskin would be easier than repairing it. Which has to hurt.
But this isn’t just about cautiously radical telegenic celebrities or grown men checking one another out at the urinals or intact males doing histrionic winces and leg-crosses at the thought of the dreaded bris. For parents, there’s a basic guilt issue at play, too. In his eloquently incensed invective against religion, God Is Not Great, the firebrand polemicist Christopher Hitchens rails against parents who have their boys circumcised.
“As to immoral practice,” he writes, “it is hard to imagine anything more grotesque than the mutilation of an infant’s genitalia.” He argues that circumcision weakens the faculty of sexual excitement and diminishes its pleasure, pointing out the significance of the operation being performed on babies rather than those who have reached the age of reason. (One study found that 92% of male infants subject to circumcision were not given anaesthetic during the procedure.)
Unconcerned that militant Jewish factions rancorously dismiss the intactivist lobby as wholly antisemitic, Hitchens states that, as recently as 2005, a mohel in New York City quite legally performed a ritual known as metzitzah (taking a mouthful of wine and then sucking the blood from the circumcision wound) on newborn babies, giving genital herpes to several small boys and causing the death of at least two.
And what happens to all those lopped-off foreskins? Believe it or not, there is a handsome profit to be made from harvested bits of young penis. The Norm UK website features the following item: “Since the 1980s, private hospitals have been involved in the business of supplying discarded foreskins to private bio-research laboratories and pharmaceutical companies, who require human flesh as raw research material. Human foreskins are in great demand for commercial enterprises, and the marketing of purloined baby foreskins is a multimillion-dollar-a-year industry.”
There is even an expensive face cream, SkinMedica, on the market, made from a formula grown from young foreskins. Yes. Really.
“There’s a sinister side to all this,” Cumming says. “It’s tradition, control and pleasure-removing masquerading as a hygiene thing. What it comes down to is mass genital mutilation. It’s barbaric. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but I’ve heard about men who can’t orgasm for ages because they have no sensation. People in America are impeded, because they don’t feel, you know?”
There have been a number of studies conducted to find out whether male circumcision reduces the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/Aids. While some of them show it may reduce the risk, they are not entirely conclusive, and using a condom still offers the best protection.
For Cumming, it’s more of an emotive issue. “As far as I am concerned, the default-setting arguments about hygiene just don’t stand up,” he says. “The sanitation issue, especially, always comes up when I am in America. But you know what? I am very clean. I shower frequently.
“I am very proud of my foreskin. I believe it’s there for a purpose. And I just want people to stop and think for a second before they decide to get a big bit of their newborn son’s cock cut off.”

Monday, May 30, 2011

AIDS Victim Tells of Healing Virtues of Coconut Oil

At least one HIV victim will be grateful forever for the healing potency found in coconut oil. Tony speaks around the country about his former hopeless battle with HIV and his ravaged self image and how it all changed when he began ingesting coconut oil. Not an herb, supplement and certainly not an expensive drug: an oil people use for cooking and body care.
Despite conventional and expensive drug measures, doctors normally expect their HIV/AIDS to progressively become worse. Imagine the doctors’ astonishment when Tony’s subsequent blood tests kept coming back with diminished viral traces until finally reaching normal. All because of six tablespoons of coconut oil per day along with three skin applications.
Read his powerful testimony below – it’s hard not to choke up when reading such a miraculous triumph among so many sad tales of HIV/AIDS victims. There are some other healing items that help reduce HIV/AIDS to barely detectable levels or banish completely. Coconut oil is a rising star in the world of super healing foods. Thankfully such products and books guiding the cures are available in health stores everywhere at low, low costs.
~Health Freedoms
In coming out of the closet to tell his story, Tony, 38, lends hope to thousands of AIDS sufferers worldwide. “You don’t know how hard it is for one to have an illness that others find repulsive…I had wanted to shut myself inside my room and just wait for my time to die,” Tony told symposium participants.
Tony was a guest speaker at a symposium titled “Why Coconut Cures”, held in Manila, Philippines, May 14, 2005. The symposium was headed by Dr. Bruce Fife, who was also the keynote speaker. Other participants included cardiologist Conrado Dayrit, dermatologist Vermen Verallo-Rowell, biochemist Fabian Dayrit, and Senator Jamby Madrigal.
Tony’s testimony, along with those of others who had experienced dramatic recoveries from various ailments, provided first-hand accounts of the use of coconut oil in healing chronic health problems described by symposium participants.
Beneath the sunglasses that he wore, his eyes were moist, not in self-pity but in triumph. A cap and long sleeves hid a body scarred by a disease Tony contracted while working in the Middle East in the 1990s. Coming home in 2002, Tony was devastated to learn that he was infected by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). As the disease progressed, the pain he endured came not only from the infections ravaging his body but from the shame the disease had brought him. He felt like giving up.
Drugs, which he could barely afford, could not deliver him from the dreaded virus and the other infections that were slowly draining away his life. His body was covered with fungal infections and oozing sores accompanied by a chronic pneumonia infection that caused a persistent cough. He knew he was losing the battle as each day symptoms grew worse; he found it increasingly more difficult to function and was completely incapable of working.
Unable to afford medication, he sought help from the Department of Health. He was referred to Dr. Conrado Dayrit, the author of the first clinical study on the healing effects of coconut oil on HIV-infected patients, which was conducted at the San Lazaro hospital in the Philippines. By this time Tony was diagnosed with full-blown AIDS and had little hope for recovery.
Dr. Dayrit secured a steady supply of coconut oil for Tony’s use, free of charge. He was instructed to apply the oil to his skin two to three times a day and consume six tablespoonfuls daily without fail.
The program worked miracles. Each time Tony went to the hospital for his periodic blood tests, his viral load decreased. Tony said that when he told hospital doctors what he was taking, they could not believe that a simple dietary oil was killing the virus better than all the modern drugs of medical science.
Just nine months after his initial visit with Dr. Dayrit, Tony appeared before the audience at the symposium for all to witness his remarkable recovery. The infections that once racked his body were gone. Even HIV was no longer detectable. What used to be skin sores all over his body were now just fading scars. His life energy had been restored enough for him to give an eloquent testimony of how something as simple and natural as coconut oil could halt this deadly disease.
Evidence for coconut oil’s effect on HIV was first discovered back in the 1980s when researchers learned that medium chain fatty acids—the kind found in coconut oil—possessed powerful antiviral properties capable of destroying the AIDS virus. Since then, numerous anecdotal accounts of HIV patients using coconut and coconut oil to overcome their condition circulated in the AIDS community. Even basketball legend Magic Johnson, who retired from the NBA because he was HIV positive, is reportedly credited with using coconut on his road to recovery.
The first clinical study using coconut on HIV patients was reported by Conrado Dayrit in 1999. In this study HIV-infected individuals were given 3.5 tablespoons of coconut oil daily. No other treatment was used. Six months later 60% of the participants showed noticeable improvement.
This was the first study to demonstrate that coconut oil does have an antiviral effect in vivo and could be used to treat HIV-infected individuals. Dr. Dayrit is now heading a larger study in Africa using coconut oil in the treatment of HIV.
The symposium “Why Coconut Cures” was based on Dr. Bruce Fife’s recently published book Coconut Cures. Philippine president Macapagal-Arroyo recognized Dr. Fife’s relentless advocacy  in educating people about the healing properties of coconut.
Coconut Cures is currently available at most health food stores in the US. It is also available directly from the publisher at or from
Bruce Fife, N.D.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Chemicals in Disposable Diapers

By Noreen Kassem

Disposable diapers seem to be a necessity in today's lifestyle of convenience and temporary items. Though they are commonly used, synthetic, single-use diapers often contain chemicals linked to long-term health conditions. A study published in the Archives of Environmental Health (1999) states that disposable diapers should be considered to be a factor that may cause or worsen childhood asthma and respiratory problems. The soft, sensitive skin of babies is also prone to rashes and allergic reactions due to the chemicals in disposable diapers.


Most disposable diapers are bleached white with chlorine, resulting in a byproduct called dioxins that leach into the environment and the diapers. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), dioxins are among the most toxic chemicals known to science and are listed by the EPA as highly carcinogenic chemicals. According to the World Health Organization, exposure to dioxins may cause skin reactions and altered liver function, as well as impairments to the immune system, nervous system, endocrine system and reproductive functions.

Sodium Polyacrylate

Sodium polycarbonate is a super absorbent chemical compound that is used in the fillers of many disposable diapers. It is composed of cellulose processed from trees that is mixed with crystals of polyacrylate. This chemical absorbs fluids and creates surface tension in the lining of the diaper to bind fluids and prevent leakage. Sodium polyacrylate is often visible as small gel-like crystals on the skin of babies and is thought to be linked to skin irritations and respiratory problems. This chemical was removed from tampons due to toxic shock syndrome concerns. As it has only been used in diapers for the last two decades, there is not yet research on the long-term health effects of sodium polyacrylate on babies.

Tributyl-tin (TBT)

Many disposable diapers contain a chemical called tributyl-tin (TBT). According to the EPA, this toxic pollutant is extremely harmful to aquatic (water) life and causes endocrine (hormonal) disruptions in aquatic organisms. TBT is a polluting chemical that does not degrade but remains in the environment and in our food chain. TBT is also an ingredient used in biocides to kill infecting organisms. Additionally, according to research published by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, tributyl-tin can trigger genes that promote the growth of fat cells, causing obesity in humans.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Disposable diapers frequently contain chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These include chemicals such as ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene and dipentene. According to the EPA, VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system as well as cancers.

Other Chemicals

Other chemicals often used in disposable diapers include dyes, fragrances, plastics and petrolatums. Adhesive chemicals are used in the sticky tabs to close the diapers and dyes are used to color and make the patterns and labels that mark diapers. Perfumes and fragrances are used in some disposable diapers to help mask odors.

Pregnancy Diet - For Mom

Water Birth

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What To Know Before You Go: Your hospital care probably won’t be evidence-based

by Birth Sense

What does “evidence-based” mean, anyway?  A popular term in health care circles these days, it refers to making sure that the procedures and protocols we follow are based on strong scientific evidence, rather than personal opinion or experience alone.  Yet many health care providers do not take time or make the effort to ensure that they are aware of and incorporate evidence-based medicine into their practices.  Why not?
  • They are busy, and it takes time to read and learn about new evidence and practices
  • They’ve always done something a certain way, and see no reason to change
  • They find their way of doing things more convenient than the evidence-based way
  • The evidence-based practice would take more time than the way they practice now
As the health-care consumer, you may think “So what?  What difference does it really make if my doctor breaks my water artificially, or wants me to be continuously monitored, or induces my labor?  Chances are that there will be no complications.”
I can certainly understand this line of thought, having struggled with it myself as a midwife.  For example, even though I know there is no evidence which supports artificial rupture of the membranes to accelerate normal labor, I am human.  I get tired and want to go home and be with my kids, just like anyone else.  The temptation is there, when we have those weak moments, to rationalize that everything will be OK, we’ve done it lots of times before without apparent ill effect, etc.  This way of thinking has a name:  the normalization of deviance.  It is a term coined after the 1986 space shuttle explosion.  NASA employees had been warned about potential problems with the O-rings when temperatures dropped too low, but because they had operated the shuttle in cold temperatures before, without apparent ill effects, they normalized in their mind the deviation from the evidence.
Here is a sample of commonly used childbirth procedures for which the evidence shows lack of benefit in normal labors, or even potential for harm:
  • artificially breaking the bag of water
  • inducing labor unless there is clear medical indication
  • repeat c-section because of prior c-section
  • automatic c-section for breech position of baby
  • administering pitocin to speed up labor
  • continual fetal monitoring
  • delivery in the supine position
  • immediate cord clamping
  • separation of mom and baby “just to get the baby dried off”
Consumers of health care can normalize deviations as well.  Take, for example, Reba.  She is pregnant for the first time.  She has read about induction of labor, and she knows that the evidence shows that her chances of a c-section rise to about 50% if she decides to agree to an induction of labor.  But Reba’s doctor seems so experienced, and he tells her that in his experience, everything turns out fine, and if it doesn’t, she would have had to have a c-section anyhow.  Reba decides to ignore the evidence and agree to her doctor’s suggestion of induction.
Or consider Sandy.  The doctor thinks her baby is big.  An ultrasound shows that the baby is about 9 lbs.  The doctor recommends a planned c-section.  Sandy doesn’t want a c-section, and she knows that ultrasounds can be a pound or more wrong.  Sandy also knows that other women in her family have had babies on the bigger side without any difficulty.  She knows the evidence does not support induction or elective c-section for a suspected big baby.  But she allows her doctor to persuade her to agree to surgery.
Situations like this happen every day, in hospitals all over the country.  What you have to decide is whether you are going to educate yourself on the best childbirth practices–or whether you are going to buy into the normalization of deviance, and do whatever your care provider suggests.  Even if the chance of a complication occurring is small, if it happens to your baby, your risk is 100%.  Don’t put yourself in a position of having to look back with regret at the choices you made.  I hope you will be strong, and hold firm for what you know is best for your baby.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Doctors Need Midwives: Ina May Gaskin on the U.S. Maternity-Care Crisis

by Ina May Gaskin
Midwives in this country may be rare, but they hold the key to improving maternal health, says Ina May Gaskin. In honor ofInternational Day of the Midwife, the “godmother of modern midwifery”shares her vision for how to treat pregnant women.
Ask your average American what a midwife is and you'll probably get a puzzled stare in return. Midwife? Isn't that a kind of witch doctor, discarded by society with the dawn of modern medicine? Do midwives still exist today?
They do, of course—and I am living proof. Midwives have attended women in pregnancy and childbirth for thousands of years, across cultures. Yet midwives are far too rare in this country, particularly compared with nearly every other country in the world. The fact that they seem outmoded here illustrates a deeper problem: not only is the profession of midwifery at risk of dying out, but also the very process of giving birth the way nature intended seems on the brink of extinction. These are just a few of the disturbing trends women will be fighting when they take to the streets today, in honor of the International Day of the Midwife.
In the U.S., one in three babies is now born surgically, despite the World Health Organization’s recommendation that rates not exceed 10 percent in hospitals serving the general population, or 15 percent in hospitals serving high-risk cases. When C-section rates are too low, women and babies will pay with their lives, but the same result occurs when C-section rates climb too high. This is a lesson we have yet to learn in the U.S.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, a woman giving birth today is more than twice as likely to die in childbirth as her mother was. The recent leading cause of maternal death in New York was pulmonary embolism, a complication whose incidence rises significantly after C-section. Equally concerning, far more babies than ever are born after a host of technological interventions such as induction and the use of pitocin to speed up labor, which bring along their own risks. Statistics like these compelled Amnesty International to publish a damning report in 2010 titled Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA, which outlined various failures in the way our health-care system treats pregnancy and birth.
How has it come to this? A century ago, when the specialty of obstetrics was in its infancy in the U.S., its founders decided that they could only succeed in promoting their profession by demonizing midwifery. Using racist and anti-immigrant slogans and caricatures, they organized a campaign to make midwifery illegal in every state possible and to frighten women away from choosing midwives by portraying them as dirty, ignorant, and evil.
As a result, when birth moved into hospitals, there were no midwives around to counter the tendency for ignorant, frightened young doctors to try to hurry a birth that would have proceeded without problems if they had just allowed a laboring mother to relax or to assume a more effective position. Only in the U.S. did obstetricians become convinced that birth was so potentially dangerous to mother and baby that they could accept the doctrine that two thirds of all babies should be pulled out of their mothers with forceps—our forceps rate in the mid-'60s, when I gave birth the first time. Because midwives remained an integral part of maternity-care staff in every other wealthy country, obstetrics in those countries never took on the fear of natural processes that has afflicted maternity care here in the U.S. for the last century.
A century ago, the founders of obstetrics decided that they could only succeed in promoting their profession by demonizing midwifery.
Article - Gaskin MidwifeA registered nurse and midwife feels the baby from the stomach of a woman who is 33 weeks pregnant with her first child on Sep. 23, 2009 in Washington. (Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP Photo)
At medical schools around the country, the time-tested skills that are central in the education of midwives are no longer valued. In November 2007, in Cape Fear, N.C., a news report from a local television station caught my attention: a woman was subjected to a C-section during which the obstetrician, who cut into her abdomen, discovered that she wasn’t even pregnant. According to that obstetrician, “several doctors had examined and attempted to induce labor on the patient for several days before the C-section incident.” Not one of them seems to have manually checked the accuracy of the diagnosis of pregnancy; the intern who looked at the woman’s ultrasound and found no heart beat had assumed that “the baby” had died—failing to take into account that sometimes there is no baby inside a woman who thinks she’s pregnant and has some superficial signs of pregnancy.
Electronic discussion of this bizarre group mistake guessed that the intern who “diagnosed” the pregnancy had probably mistaken retained fecal material for a baby. I found that comment amusing, since I’ve never once felt an accumulation of poop in the shape of a baby. However, I have diagnosed two false pregnancies, one of them during my first few months of caring for pregnant women. Hands are still useful—even in the era of ultrasound.
With this radical shift, more and more doctors and nurses finish their training without ever observing an undisturbed vaginal birth—a situation that tends to send C-section rates even higher. And one that could be improved if more hospitals relied on midwives to balance medical leaders’ tendency to treat every labor as a disaster about to happen.
Many U.S. obstetricians themselves lament our collective history as much as I do, and they are rightly embarrassed by the loss of traditional skills in their profession. I know this, because I am getting more invitations to lecture obstetrics faculty and residents at teaching hospitals than ever before. They know that we midwives recognize the necessity for obstetrics, but at the same time, they know that obstetrics also needs midwifery if it wants to stop pathologizing every pregnancy and birth. More and more doctors themselves are voting with their feet by choosing midwife-attended births. In fact, the last birth I attended was for an obstetrician who chose not to give birth where she worked.
Instead of creating safer births and healthier moms and babies, our overuse of technology has caused a host of problems. My friend, Dr. Tadashi Yoshimura, a Japanese obstetrician, talks about how he suddenly became aware of how terrifying standard hospital routines can be to women in labor when he looked at a television monitor showing the face of a laboring woman who was hooked up to various devices and left alone. As he began to substitute routine use of technology with a caring and observant midwife for each woman, he got to see what he termed "the mystic beauty" of a laboring woman who is not frightened and is thus powerful in bringing forth life.
I know exactly what he is talking about because I saw that on the face of the first woman I ever observed giving birth. He learned what I learned: that for the most part, nature gets it right in birth. Women's bodies are not lemons. The creator is not a careless mechanic. The same process that has brought hundreds of thousands of years of human beings to earth can continue to do so today. The human species is no more unsuited to give birth than any other of the 5,000 or so species of mammals on the planet. We are merely the most confused.
What makes midwives special and indispensable is their respect for women, for women’s choices, and their awe at the beauty of birth. Today, on the International Day of the Midwife, I would like to recognize all the midwives and other birth professionals who have put themselves on the line to provide the best possible care for women and babies. I hope that, through their guidance, we can make birth in the U.S. safer and more empowering.
Ina May Gaskin, called the “midwife of modern midwifery” by Salon, has practiced for nearly 40 years at the internationally lauded Farm Midwifery Center. She is the only midwife for whom an obstetric maneuver has been named (Gaskin maneuver). She is the author, most recently, of the new book Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What to Eat - voiced by Jason Schwartzman

15 Crazy Things About Vaginas

Lissa Rankin's picture

A few weeks ago, I finally finished my 20 city book tour to promote What's Up Down There? Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend (Woo-hoo! Trumpets blare! Cymbals crash! Phew). But i realized that I never posted a juicy blog that I wrote in the fall at the beginning of the tour... and gals, is it a good one. Did you hear the story of how asked me to write this post -- "15 Crazy Things About Vaginas" -- for their website on the launch day of my book? They had posted "15 Crazy Things About Sperm" and it was wildly popular. So they figured they’d play nice in the sandbox and give us girls our time in the limelight.
And then, after it had been up on their website for about an hour, some suit in corporate made them pull it.
“Too saucy.”
You can read the whole crazy-making story here.
Anyway, I never did get around to posting what I wrote for them. So here you go.
15 things I bet you never knew about vajayjays.
It’s amazing how much misinformation is out there about the vagina. Given how fascinated our society is with the female body, you’d think we’d be a little more informed. But from what I discovered while soliciting questions for my book What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend, many of us still have a lot to learn.
To help out, I’ve compiled a few things you may not know about the female genitalia.
  1. Pubic hair is not just a biological accident that forces us to the waxing salon. It serves three critical functions. First, it protects the delicate vagina. Second, it serves as a reproductive billboard to alert potential mates that you are biologically (if not emotionally) prepared to procreate. And last, it’s a pheromone carpet and traps the scents that lead potential mates to the promised land. So you might think twice before you shave it all off. It’s there for a reason. Embrace it.
  2. There are 8000 nerve endings in the clitoris, dedicated exclusively to female pleasure. The penis only has 4000. Who says God didn’t take care of us girls?
  3. The average vagina is 3-4 inches long, but fear not if your guy is hung like a horse. The vagina can expand by 200% when sexually aroused, kind of like a balloon. Remember, the vagina was made to birth babies, so it’s exceedingly elastic. If you have pain when getting it on with someone large, you can use dilators to help stretch the vagina so you can accommodate the whole package.
  4. The vagina doesn’t connect to the lung. While the vagina can expand, it’s not an open conduit to the abdominal cavity. While microscopic sperm can swim through a tiny hole in the cervix, a tampon simply won’t fit. So if you lose something in there, don’t worry. Reach in all the way and pull it out. Do not -- I repeat, do not -- go hunting for whatever you’ve lost with a pair of pliers. Think of your vagina as being like a sock. If you lose a banana in a sock…it stays in the sock.
  5. Yes, it’s true -- your vagina can fall out. Not to belabor the sock metaphor, but it can turn inside out just like a worn out sweat sock and hang between your legs as you get older. But don’t fret; this condition -- called pelvic prolapse -- can be fixed.
  6. Vaginas have something in common with sharks. Both contain squalene, a substance that exists in both shark livers and natural vaginal lubricant. (Cue music: “She’s a maneater…”)
  7. You can catch sexually transmitted diseases even if you use a condom. Sorry to break it to you, but the skin of the vulva can still touch infectious skin of the scrotum -- and BAM! Warts. Herpes. Molluscum contagiosum. Pubic lice. So pick your partners carefully.
  8. The average length of the labia minora is less than ¾ inch long (yes, someone got out a ruler and measured 2981 women). Only 1.8% of women have labia longer than 1 ½ inches. But remember, every vulva is different and special. Some lips hang down. Some are tucked up neatly inside. Some are long. Some are short. Some are even. Some aren’t. All are beautiful. You’re perfect just the way you are.
  9. While hair on your head can live up to seven years, pubic hair has a life expectancy of about three weeks, which is why it only grows so long. So don’t worry if you opt not to groom your pubes -- you won’t need to braid them any time soon.
  10. The word “vagina” comes from the Latin root meaning “sheath for a sword,” which may explain why some women simply hate the word. So if you don’t like the word “vagina,” pick your own name for your girly parts. Just call it something and don’t be afraid to talk about it.
  11. Only about 30% of women have orgasms from intercourse alone. The clitoris is where the action is. Most women who do orgasm during sex have figured out how to hit their sweet spot, either from positioning or from direct stimulation of the clitoris with fingers.
  12. Increasing evidence suggests that the G spot feels good because it lies right over a deep part of the clitoris. Although experts describe the G spot as being inside the vagina on the anterior wall, just under the urethra, the crura of the clitoris actually runs right there. And a recent study demonstrated that vaginal orgasms may actually be deep clitoral orgasms. But who cares? An orgasm is an orgasm. Appreciate it, regardless of where it comes from.
  13. Vaginal farts (some call them “queefs” or “varts”) happen to almost all women at one time or another, especially during sex or other forms of exercise. So don’t be embarrassed if your hooha lets out a toot. You’re perfectly normal.
  14. Some women do ejaculate during orgasm, but you’re normal if you don’t. The controversial “female ejaculation” most likely represents two different phenomena. If it’s a small amount of milky fluid, it likely comes from the paraurethral glands inside the urethra. If it’s a cup, it’s probably pee. Many times, it may be a little bit of both. But don't stress out about peeing on yourself. Put a towel under you and surrender to the experience.
  15. Safe sex (or even just orgasm alone) is good for you. Benefits include lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke, reducing your risk of breast cancer, bolstering your immune system, helping you sleep, making you appear more youthful, improving your fitness, regulating menstrual cycles, relieving menstrual cramps, helping with chronic pain, reducing the risk of depression, lowering stress levels, and improving self esteem. So go at it, girlfriends!
There you go. There you have it. It’s important to know this kind of stuff, because you can’t truly love all of yourself until you love and understand your girly parts. We talk about the eyeball or the elbow or the big toe. Why not talk about the vagina? Plus, the vagina is way more interesting than the pinky finger or the belly button. The vagina is the creator of life and the portal of pleasure. But it’s also where we carry many traumas -- menstrual cramps, childbirth trauma, molestation, rape, abortion, and painful gynecological exams. If we don’t release these traumas, they back up and manifest in a whole host of health conditions like depression and chronic pelvic pain. We must talk about our girly parts to liberate them.
The more we know, the more we’re empowered to live life out loud, love fully, and really rock this life.
*      *       *
So there you have it.
Can you believe that these 15 facts caused such a hullaballoo? What do you think? Did you learn anything new? Have any more fun vajayjay facts to share? What do you think about how "sperm trumps vagina" and that this article was pulled? (It still rattles me...)
I had such a great time on tour talking with women about their yonis, these sacred sources of vitality and power. Big hugs to everyone whom I met on tour, who has read What's Up Down There, and who continues to bring vaginas out of the closet!
Loving you and your yonis -- just the way you are,